Students raising money for missions trips and choir tours now have an alternative to selling candy bars and wrapping paper. Concerned Crafts (School-Fundraising.org), a nonprofit ministry based in Chicago, produces a catalog of developing-world crafts, offering school and church groups a fundraiser that also helps the poor.
Andy Sturges of Jesus People USA started Concerned Crafts in 1991 after several short-term missions trips to Mexico. The focus switched to Guatemala, where Sturges saw extreme poverty, especially among the widows and repatriated refugees of the 4 million Mayan descendants.
"We're trying to refashion business to be a tool of compassion," Sturges says.
The project earns about $60,000 annually and creates an estimated 70 jobs in developing countries. Sturges and three other staff members do not receive a salary.
The catalog features 22 handmade crafts, including woven purses from Guatemala, a wooden giraffe from Kenya, and a bamboo flute from Bangladesh. Gift prices range from 75 cents for a friendship bracelet to $20 for a large purse. Fundraisers keep 35 percent of gross sales.1